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Queer eye for Park Slope • Brooklyn Paper

Queer eye for Park Slope

Desiree Akhavan (left) and Ingrid Jungermann make a web TV series that pokes fun at Park Slope stereotypes. The pair shoot at many neighborhood locations, including Gorilla Coffee.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

The opening scene of “The Slope,” a new Park Slope-based web series, is so subtle you could almost miss the irony: While walking a dog, the two main characters — a pair of hilariously superficial lesbians — pass a political canvasser who implores, “Do you have a minute for gay rights?”

The women — who are caught up in a hypothetical debate over which of them would be more attractive to a straight male — respond with the same short, mindless answer one might give a drunk man begging for change on the subway.

“No!” they fire off in unison.

It’s that sense of wry irreverence that drives the new series, which spoofs Park Slope stereotypes — and, ultimately, walks a ballsy line between funny and offensive.

The sketch comedy follows two gay lady characters — who, for comedic purposes, are vaguely homophobic — using neighborhood hangouts like Gorilla Coffee and Ginger’s Pub as backdrops for the satire.

Creators Desiree Akhavan and Ingrid Jungermann — filmmakers who live in Park Slope — say the neighborhood’s queer lady set is as ripe for parody as the stroller pushers, the yoga addicts and the co-op shoppers.

“Park Slope can be sensitive and gay and politically correct — so sometimes you gotta stop and take the piss out of it,” said Akhavan, who is bisexual in real life. “We’re super self-aware of how obnoxious we can be,” she said.

The series pokes fun of Brooklyn’s weird breed of political correctness in the way Sarah Silverman would, if she was interested in sleeping with chicks.

Behold, for example, a scene from the episode, “Miserable Animals,” in which Desiree and Ingrid — who play lovers on the show — bicker in Prospect Park about the term “gay”:

Ingrid tells Desiree: “You use the word ‘gay’ to mean both ‘homosexual’ and ‘lame.’ And that’s homophobic.”

Desiree fires back: “You know, it really hurts my feelings you would say that. How much ‘gayer’ can I get — having a huge public fight in the park with my super-gay girlfriend?”

The creators, both graduate film students at NYU, have so far posted five episodes that riff on subjects such as bi-curiosity, narcissism, Justin Bieber and homo wedding outfits — while winking at the fact that Park Slopers sometimes forget the rest of the world is not eating artisanal beef jerky and mounting rainbow flags on strollers.

Naturally, not everybody gets the joke.

Akhavan — whose character launches into a tongue-in-cheek tutorial about gender roles in lesbian sex — recently received a web comment calling her “bigoted.”

And after watching a different episode — one meant to spoof the way gay folks are presented on reality TV — a second commenter took it seriously, writing, “This is a very tough topic.”

Even so, the duo is unfazed by the idea that some people won’t “get it.”

To get ideas rolling, the women sometimes record their conversations — many of which they’ve had over coffee at Dizzy’s diner — then write sketches separately, using the brainstorming sessions as inspiration. They then meet back up to edit the script and use a hired filmmaker, Erin Harper, to shoot naturalistic scenes a la “Portlandia,” with plenty of nods (and a couple thumb bites) to Brownstone Brooklyn.

The series is meant to be a launching pad for a larger TV pilot — which is happening increasingly more often in the realm of comedy, like in the cases of “The Whitest Kids U Know” and “Human Giant” along with IFC’s “The Onion News Network” — although the duo has not yet shopped around the concept or been written up by critics.

Ultimately, they swear, it’s all out of love.

“We love Park Slope,” Akhavan said. “But our heads are pretty far up our own asses sometimes — so it’s fun to take a step back.”

Hmm, we wonder what they make fun of at Gorilla Coffee.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

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